When people think about adopting a pet, it’s usually puppies and kittens that pop into mind! Puppies and kittens are cute, playful, fluffy, and… so adorable!! But they also require lots of time and attention, with house training and obedience training for puppies; litter training for kittens; and feeding schedules, socializing, and safety-proofing the home for both. And don’t forget about the crazy midnight capers! All of these come part and parcel with puppies and kittens. For some people, all of that is worth it; for others, it may be met with hesitation.
The idea of adopting a “senior” pet might not be first thought that comes to mind, but seniors can make great pets. They are often thought of as “problem pets,” when in truth there are many reasons why older pets end up in shelters. Often older pets are there because they were owned by an elderly person who either passed away or had to move into assisted living. Often they are surrendered when families experience economic hardship, no longer able to afford the care, or, for any number of reasons are unable to manage the pet’s health concerns; or when someone in the family develops allergies or asthma. Pets are also surrendered when they don’t adjust well to the addition of a new member of the family, such as a baby.
There are many advantages to adopting an older pet. Here are 6 great reasons:
- They’re trained. Most older pets are trained – they “know the ropes.” Older dogs are typically house trained and already understand basic commands like “sit” “stay” and “come”. Older cats are usually litter trained so the training is done! Older pets typically understand the daily routines and their place in the “pack” or social group. Not only will this save a lot of time normally needed for basic training, with dogs, it often will save the cost of obedience classes. And if you’re thinking of adding more tricks to your dog’s repertoire, don’t despair – you can teach an old dog new tricks! With a longer attention span, older dogs typically learn faster.
- Older pets aren’t teething! Kittens and puppies chew on everything while teething. More than one pair of shoes has been ruined! Seniors, on the other hand, have learned (hopefully) that chewing on household items is a no-no.
- They’re less destructive. Puppies and kittens can get into “trouble”. They are curious by nature and often get into things that they shouldn’t. Kittens tend to knock things off counters; puppies tend to eat things that aren’t edible. Older pets tend to not get into as much trouble – but they still need to have healthy boundaries set for them.
- They’re calmer. Older pets tend to be relaxed and settled. They have an established personality. By asking the shelter workers about the pet’s character, you will know if the pet will fit into your household and lifestyle. Calmer pets are great for senior citizens looking for a companion, young families with children, or families who have had the “puppy or kitten experience” and are looking instead for a pet that comes “ready” for their home.
- You get what you see. Because these pets are full grown, there are no mysteries about how big they will be, their personality, what their coat will be like (and how much they will shed), and the care the pet will need. Most senior pets come with their medical history, so if they have a medical condition that requires care, you will know what to expect right from day one.
- Senior pets need you. Because seniors are usually “the least adoptable,” by adopting one you provide a loving home to him or her to live out their golden years.
If considering a new pet, think about a senior! You may be the last chance for a forever home.